26 February 2007

Why losing Vilsack's candidacy is bad for America

I have no particular loyalty to Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who Friday dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. I had heard his name tossed around in 2004 as a potential running mate for John Kerry, and that's about all I knew of him. But as we know, the 2008 race is already shaping up to be the most expensive campaign in history. This reality killed the Vilsack campaign. It simply couldn't gain a foothold in a crowded field that includes several heavy hitters.

Admittedly, a lot of total loonies run for office at all levels each year. There's always some yokel from the middle of nowhere who gets his name added to the presidential ballot in some state, just because he got a lot of people to sign a petition. But Vilsack was at least someone who could claim to have bona fide political and administrative experience to offer. Again, I don't know much about his positions on this or that, but I would've liked the chance to learn. And it shouldn't cost him or me hundreds of millions of dollars to hear it.

What's most disturbing though is this quote from Vilsack's bowing out speech:
“I came up against something for the first time in my life that hard work and effort couldn’t overcome. I just couldn’t work harder, couldn’t give it enough.”
Should money really be the factor that determines a person's viability as a candidate, especially for the presidency? Of course not. Hard work and effort should matter, not cash on hand. Furthermore, the media should be better about giving equal attention to candidates, rather than brushing some off as unelectable before they can even get going, but that's a whole different issue.

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